The Mini e has certainly attracted many would be owners and media attention. We test drove it and peered into its future.
The gist is that the Mini was a natural for an electric conversion. From the outrageous PML 640hp mini, to the Hybrid Technologies, it was not until BMW decided to electrify its Mini, with the help from no less than the grand daddy of EVs, AC Propulsion that the world of electric vehicles, EV seemed closer. Unfortunately, BMW never had intentions of producing it en masse… or do they now?
AC Propulsion Inside. Sitting inside a Mini e is like the regular version, except the gauges show charge levels. The AC is blasting but there is no gas engine noise. There are no seats behind, as the battery pack takes up the central position of the car. The trunk is big enough for a few bags but not for a long weekend getaway.
The cars launches smoothly. Compared to AC Propulsion’s eBox, it is softer in its acceleration. The regenerative braking is so soft you will not feel it at low speed. The only time you become aware of it is at speeds above 30 mph. The handling is what we have come to expect from the Mini, and even with its heavier weight 1,465 kilograms or 3,230 lbs, it is still crisp, thanks to its electric motor rated at 150 kW, or 204 hp.
The car zips along in traffic and can out-accelerate most cars. This comes in handy in heavy Los Angeles traffic when a spot opens up in another lane. As far as the range, you can squeeze around 90 miles from it, depending on your driving style. Energy efficiency of a kilowatt hour should give you 5.4 miles, which is more revealing then the confusing mile per gallon translation.
All in all, it is a fun car to drive and to own. The problem is, you cannot own one and they will be returned to BMW in a year. At $850+ a month, it is not cheap for a year try out. As far as eventual production, BMW has announced it had no plans to further it. However, we hear through the official grapevine that due to overwhelming positive response, the company is debating whether to produce a Mini e series or electrifying another small car. What say you? Tell BMW what you think.